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Student-centered approach key for higher education in region

Posted 2/26/23

Central New York is a destination for students of all ages seeking higher education, hailing from across the state and beyond for the high quality and well-rounded learning opportunities here.

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Student-centered approach key for higher education in region


Central New York is a destination for students of all ages seeking higher education, hailing from across the state and beyond for the high quality and well-rounded learning opportunities here.

Here, they will find experienced and engaging professors, cutting-edge technology, competitive sports programs, a variety of personal support systems, and the camaraderie of fellow students, all in a four-season environment to enjoy outdoor recreation together in their downtime as they recharge for their next classes.

Area colleges and universities include:

Hamilton College

Hamilton College is a private undergraduate liberal arts college situated on a 1,350-acre hilltop overlooking the village of Clinton. The college has a need-blind admission policy and an open curriculum. It strives to prepare students for lives of meaning, purpose, and active citizenship. Guided by the motto “Know Thyself,” the college emphasizes intellectual growth, flexibility, and collaboration in a residential academic community.

In fall 2022, Hamilton College received almost 10,000 applications and offered admission to the most selective pool of first-year students in more than four decades. Its acceptance rate was the lowest in the college’s recent history, at 11.8%.

Hamilton College was busy this past year with a few notable improvements to the campus. The Bristol Pool recently reopened after a significant overhaul of both the facility’s exterior and interior. Comprehensive renovations are also underway at Root Hall, which will host numerous classrooms and four academic programs when it reopens in time for classes next fall.

They also completed the construction of three stormwater detention basins on the south side of campus to slow stormwater flow, mitigate erosion, and help stormwater control downstream.

In 2023, Hamilton College will continue its focus on improving accessibility on campus as one of many forms of inclusivity. The college has committed to budgeting $500,000 each year for accessibility-related projects, beginning with the 2022–23 academic year. This year’s projects will focus on the dining halls, the Wellin Museum, and the Burke Library.

The Sage Rink, the nation’s second-oldest college ice arena, will undergo renovations to increase energy efficiency. Hamilton College is committed to sustainability efforts and the goal of being carbon neutral by 2030. This includes the conversion of facilities to geothermal energy, which takes advantage of the relatively constant temperature of the earth to heat and cool the buildings while reducing their carbon footprint. Hamilton already uses geothermal energy in five of its existing buildings.

Hamilton College and 13 other institutions have been awarded an $8.05 million grant by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) as part of HHMI’s Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) initiative titled “Increasing Capacity to Support Equitable and Inclusive Learning Environments for Introductory-level STEM Students across the LCC2 Learning Community.” Funding is focused on developing pedagogy for increasing completion rates for underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, with particular attention to minorities, first-generation students, and women.

The college also recently received $210,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities for research and to establish a new program in curatorial studies.

Hamilton’s Levitt Center is continuing its programming with local government and non-profit agencies as part of its Justice Lab program. This fall, the program focused on poverty and homelessness in Utica. In February, the Levitt Center and the mayor of Utica will release a report addressing these issues.

The college is continuing its Common Ground speaker series with a presentation Wednesday, Feb. 22 on issues of privacy featuring Brad Weitman, Facebook’s director of privacy and public policy. Future public events are being planned.

Hamilton College is located at 198 College Hill Road in Clinton. For more information, call 315-859-4019, email or visit

Herkimer College

Situated on a 500-acre campus just off NYS Thruway exit 30, Herkimer County Community College (Herkimer College) is one of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York (SUNY) system. After 56 years, Herkimer College continues to offer a quality and affordable educational experience and is ranked among the top two-year colleges in the nation based on transfer and graduation rates, as well as affordability.

Herkimer College offers more than 40 associate degree and certificate programs in art, business, communication arts, criminal justice and law, education, healthcare and service, liberal arts and sciences, and STEM, and is a leading provider of fully online degree programs.

The student body of approximately 2,500 students hails from throughout the nation and several foreign countries. With on-campus housing for more than 600 students, a nationally-ranked athletics program, and a variety of student activities, clubs and events, Herkimer College students enjoy the complete college experience.

In 2022, Herkimer College resumed a full schedule of activities, events and athletic contests, returning to the vibrant, engaging campus the college has long been known for having. The college welcomed back several beloved community events, including a spectacular fireworks display in celebration of Independence Day, the Herkimer County Arts and Crafts Fair, and a performance of “An Emerald Isle Christmas” by the acclaimed Irish ensemble, Danú.

The Herkimer Generals athletic program continued its success in 2022, adding an individual and team national championship. Track and field runner Avion Harris, of Niagara Falls, won a national championship in the 1500-meter run, beating a very competitive field in a personal best time of 4:09.59. The baseball team won the program’s first ever NJCAA Division III World Series in June. Other teams that placed nationally in 2022 included men’s soccer in fourth place, men’s basketball in third place and softball in fifth place.

Five individuals and two teams were inducted into the Herkimer College Athletic Hall of Fame in recognition of significant contributions in athletics. The 2022 class included Kenneth Black, who was a standout basketball player in 1978 and the first Herkimer College student-athlete to be named an All-American. Wendall Williams ’14, was a six-time national champion in four separate track and field events and the first Herkimer College alum to be drafted by the NFL. Victoria Campanian ’15, was the 2014 national champion in the 10,000-meter race, and a two-time NJCAA All-American runner. Dani Nicosia ’15, was a two-time NJCAA All-American for women’s soccer and a two-time Team MVP.

Jimmy Smith ’87, was a standout basketball player who led the Generals to a fourth-place finish in the 1987 Division I NJCAA Basketball National Tournament, led the tournament in scoring, and was named the Most Valuable Player. Gino Barbuto ’86, was a two-year player on the men’s soccer team and a generous supporter of the athletic program. Hank Testa ’79, was a dedicated baseball and basketball coach since 1995; and the 2013 softball team, the first and only Herkimer College softball team to win a national championship to date.

Herkimer College has developed new in-demand programs critical to filling needs in the local workforce, including an emergency management certificate program and a supply chain management micro-credential program. In partnership with other colleges in the region, Herkimer received a National Science Foundation grant to offer an LSAMP program, focusing on underrepresented minority students in STEM degree programs.

Herkimer also was selected for the Second Chance Pell award program, expanding access to Federal Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals, resulting in an increased capacity for students enrolled in the College-in-Prison program at Mohawk and Mid-State correctional facilities.

To maintain its commitment to affordable and accessible education, Herkimer College announced in early 2022 that its in-state tuition rate for the 2022–23 academic year would remain static. Tuition for full-time, in-state students is $2,558 per semester, and part-time, in-state tuition is $189 per credit hour. Recently, named Herkimer College the most affordable community college in New York State.

A new five-year institutional strategic plan, “Building on Our Legacy; Investing in the Future,” was released in 2022. The plan is a road map for campus master plans and operational plans and is focused on providing relevant, flexible, and just-in-time programs and services to meet the changing needs of both traditional and adult students.

Moving into 2023, Herkimer College is now enrolling students in a new Esports Management A.A.S. degree program. Esports is predicted to grow faster than any other sport in the next few years, and the need for managers to support game developers and the emerging audience of gaming consumers is projected to increase as well. This growing industry is creating demand for employees who appreciate the professional competitive video gaming environment, understand basic technology, and possess marketing and management skills.

Herkimer College’s program will prepare students in areas such as esports management, event planning and management, and sports governance, as well as provide them with a critical foundation in business and general education coursework. Graduates may find employment in event management, broadcasting, facilities management, game day management and operations, public relations, marketing, and sales.

Graduates will have the option to enter the workforce upon graduation or continue their education at a four-year college or university. For more information, visit

Cathleen C. McColgin recently announced her retirement after serving as college president since 2015. McColgin’s retirement will be effective Aug. 31.

Herkimer County Community College is at 100 Reservoir Road in Herkimer. For more information, call 315-866-0300, email or visit

Mohawk Valley Community College

With a 76-year history and campuses in Utica and Rome in the heart of New York’s Tech Valley, Mohawk Valley Community College offers access to cutting-edge technology, state-of-the-art facilities, and industry partnerships. Boasting 90-plus degree programs, MVCC prepares students for in-demand careers and transfer opportunities in fields such as engineering, technology, business, criminal justice, and art, among others.

In 2022, MVCC launched its FastTrack program, designed to help students develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their chosen field in six months or less, at no cost. Programs in healthcare, manufacturing, skilled trades, IT, and education, among others, are available. More information is available at

In 2023, MVCC looks forward to increasing the number of adult learners who are returning to school to upskill or retrain; expanding partnerships with four-year institutions; implementing equity and inclusion initiatives; and focusing on high-demand fields such as healthcare and advanced manufacturing.

The Utica campus is at 1101 Sherman Drive and the Rome campus is at 1101 Floyd Ave. For more information, call 315-792-5400, email or visit

SUNY Polytechnic Institute

SUNY Polytechnic Institute is New York State’s globally recognized, high-tech educational ecosystem. At its Utica campus, SUNY Poly offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in technology, including engineering, cybersecurity, computer science, and engineering technologies; professional studies, including business, communication, and nursing; and arts and sciences, including natural sciences, game design, mathematics, the humanities, and social sciences. Thriving athletic, recreational, and cultural programs, events, and activities complement the campus experience.

SUNY Poly boasts a robust academic and research ecosystem that remains vibrant.

In 2022, SUNY Poly was proud that, among other highlights, the institution sustained its high rankings, like having “U.S. News & World Report” rank SUNY Poly No. 2 for “Top Public Schools,” in the Top 20 for “Social Mobility,” among the Top 50 for “Best Value Colleges,” and No. 4 for “Best Colleges for Veterans,” all in the 2022 “Regional Universities North” category.

It also maintained its strong enrollment. In the 2021-2022 academic year, SUNY Poly welcomed more than 2,850 students, continuing sustained enrollment year-over-year, even at a time when many institutions still face headwinds as a result of the pandemic’s impact and a slowing economy.

SUNY Poly’s targeted educational approach provides access to academic-to-career pipelines in high-demand areas, and its partners range from nearby community colleges to industry collaborators, inspiring students at all levels via exciting career paths, whether they study liberal arts, nursing, or interactive media and game design.

It also remained a hub for enabling game-changing research and innovation in 2022. SUNY Poly’s faculty researchers secured significant external funding to advance fundamental knowledge in areas such as engineering and community health, among others. They are also excited about their partnerships, such as with Wolfspeed, which supports a STEM scholarship program and two endowed faculty chair positions, in addition to other hands-on research opportunities.

SUNY Poly continues to evolve, and SUNY Poly is, and will remain, part of the Mohawk Valley’s DNA. The institution currently consists of five colleges - four in Utica-Rome and one in Albany. The four colleges at the Utica campus are the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, College of Engineering, and College of Health Sciences, which remain focused on providing an unmatched education.

The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, which has always been located in Albany across from the University at Albany, will be transferred to UAlbany once a plan is finalized toward the end of the year. This change is administrative only. In addition, SUNY Poly has begun the process of finding a permanent president.

SUNY Poly sees this inflection point as a tremendous opportunity, and is working closely with local elected officials, industry and community partners, and colleagues at SUNY system and New York State government to develop a strategic plan strengthening the future of SUNY Poly in Utica-Rome. As a result, SUNY Poly will grow its programs while bolstering its position as a destination for economic and workforce development.

It will also continue to offer an incredible value to students, with affordable tuition and dozens of world-class academic programs. Many of these programs are in STEM fields and are designed to meet the needs of regional employers. SUNY Poly is also looking forward to the continuing growth of its student body.

SUNY Poly is at 100 Seymour Road in Utica. For more information, call 315-792-7500 or visit

Utica University

Now led by its Board of Trustees and current President Laura Casamento, Utica University is located in the heart of Central New York and is a comprehensive, independent, private institution that was founded in 1946 as Utica College. The university offers many of the advantages of a large university, such as undergraduate and graduate degree options, excellent academic programs, and an outstanding faculty, but with an intimacy and a high degree of personal attention more closely associated with smaller private colleges.

Utica University’s greatest achievement as a higher education institution is that its students continue to excel in the classroom and its graduates and alums in the workplace.

It was a year of transition in 2022 as Utica College became Utica University, when the New York State Board of Regents approved and endorsed the college’s petition to elevate to university status. This monumental move represented the culmination of a decades-long commitment to strategic growth, academic excellence through innovative programs and curricula, and an unwavering belief in providing incredible, life-changing opportunities to all students through higher education.

This past year saw changes not only in name but also in the brick and mortar space of the Burrstone Road campus. Utica University unveiled the long-awaited and highly anticipated Carbone Family Esports Auditorium, a brand new, state-of-the-art facility located in Bull Hall that is home to the new Utica University Esports Program. Esports is rapidly growing among colleges and universities across North America, and this arena already allows Utica students to compete against some of the top esports teams in the nation.

Faculty members continue to garner awards and other recognitions for their teaching, research and publications and through the support of alumni and friends, their Thrive On the campaign is on pace to achieve its goal of $30 million. This fundraising initiative to strengthen Utica’s ability to recruit and retain top students makes education accessible to all, and supports academic and athletic achievement at the highest levels.

Also reaching for the highest levels are Utica University athletes, who continue to excel in the classroom and on the field, most notably the football team, which advanced this year to the NCAA tournament for the first time in the program’s history, reaching the Sweet 16.

As the world works to move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruption it has caused to higher education in 2023, the university is seeing good signs of student and family interest in Utica. Applications are up more than 30% from this time a year ago, with transfer applications up more than 125%.

They are seeing strong interest once again from international students and recently welcomed their first international MBA cohort that includes students from Ghana, Egypt, Hong Kong and India. Interest from international students is expected to grow significantly in the year ahead and subsequent years.

Also starting 2023 strong is Utica’s men’s hockey team, achieving a national No. 1 ranking in the U.S. College Hockey Online Men’s Top 15 within the first month of 2023.

Continuing to take students into the future, Utica University looks forward to the construction of an expanded, multidisciplinary Crime Scene Lab in Bull Hall, the principal home of Justice Studies programs on the institution’s Burrstone Campus. The project takes shape with the help of $717,000 via the Fiscal Year 2023 Federal Omnibus Appropriations Bill, also known as the Omnibus Spending Package. This innovative new facility will provide a state-of-the-art forum for experience-based learning in incident response, involving students across a range of disciplines as well as driving continued collaboration between the university and local law enforcement agencies.

And this summer Utica University will appoint a new university president, the 10th in the institution’s history, following the announced retirement of Casamento at the end of the 2023 academic year after seven years at the helm. Casamento, a Utica native and the university’s first female president, took the top position in 2016.

Utica University is at 1600 Burrstone Road in Utica. For more information, call 315-792-3006 or visit


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